First salvos fired in meal kit wars

Global Business

Cooking hot, healthy meals at home using meal kits is a popular trend in a number of American cities, and it’s about to go nationwide.

Grocery giant Walmart and the company Weight Watchers are adding meal kits to an already crowded market. Might it work in other countries too?

CGTN’s John Terrett popped his pinafore on to find out.

For years, the TV dinner was all the rage – precooked meals in a box or aluminum trays. Not always nutritious or appetizing, but easily heated-up in an oven or microwave and eaten while watching your favorite shows on the sofa after a hard day’s work.

If it wasn’t a TV dinner there was always the good old takeout, of course – Italian, Indian, American and yes, Chinese – still very popular here in the U.S.

We’re now in the age of the meal kit just the right amount of quick to assemble fresh ingredients to feed one person, a couple or even a whole family.

The world’s biggest grocery store Walmart is now expanding its service and selling meal kits in hundreds of its stores

In a statement, the company said: “Customers are busier than ever and we know getting a delicious dinner on the table can be a chore.”

These delicious meals give the best or worst of cooks a fresh, easy option for dinner tonight Each meal is a one off in-store purchase, no subscription needed. And the slimming company Weight Watchers – whose best known shareholder is the billionaire TV star Oprah Winfrey – is squeezing in on the act, too – with “quick prep” meal kits to be sold in grocery stores.

“Our goal is to be a partner to everyone on their pursuit toward healthier living,” Weight Watchers said in a statement. The weight loss firm is expected to roll out its meal kits in the second half of this year.

In New York, people are familiar with meal kits being delivered to their doors, from the pioneering Blue Apron to its German rival HelloFresh.

“This is healthy, vegetables are always a good idea,” Kristie Lancaster a professor of nutrition at New York University said. She said there are plenty of meal kits for Americans in a time crunch.

“When I see the commercials, they look like they are healthy options, lots of vegetables and fresh ingredients which is good.”

Kristie said apart from time, the cost of food is a key reason why people choose what they eat, so keeping meal kit costs down will likely broaden their appeal.

It seems as life gets busier and busier … healthy option meal kits are here to stay. But will all the providers be here to stay?

Blue Apron may have led the way – but stiff competition from through its Whole Foods division – and now Walmart and Weight Watchers has crimped its share price since it floated on the stock market.

Who might rise to the top as the cream and who will end up as burned offerings in the meal kit business is right now anyone’s guess.

Max Wolff talks the future of meal kits

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Max Wolff, chief economist for ICash Group, about the crowded market of meal kit deliver.